Puglia is a small piece of heaven from North to South.
Yet there are some places that will impress you most for their nature and cultural heritage.
One is the Gargano Promontory, and what follows is the story of my 2-day tour from the hinterland to the coast and back.
As fine-food-and-wine lover, I chose four gourmet locations: a winery, a butcher’s shop, a seaside restaurant and a cheese farm.
What are you waiting for? Enjoy the tour!
FIRST STOP: D’ARAPRÌ WINERY, San Severo (FG)
If you are a wine lover, then you must visit D’Araprì winery at least once in your life.
Founded in 1979 by three friends passionate to jazz music, D’Araprì winery was the first one to produce sparkling wine in South Italy, adopting the traditional Champagne method.
Since then, the winery has been producing high quality spumante wines made of local white Bombino grapes, comparable with – or even superior to – the most well known French champagnes.
I am sure you will love them as well as the impressive underground cellar (1000 square metres) dating back to the 17th century, where thousands bottles are stored horizontally in the traditional racks.
SECOND STOP: MICHELE SABATINO’S BUTCHER’S SHOP, Apricena (FG)
Although it might seem weird, on the way to Peschici, I use to drop by Michele Sabatino’s butcher’s shop.
A butcher’s shop? – You may wonder. Actually, much more.
Since 1981, Michele Sabatino has been selecting the best cattle breeds, and he has been using the traditional methods of processing and preservation of meat.
The meat of his black pigs of Monti Dauni, Gargano goats and Podolica cows may be found in Italy’s best gourmet restaurants as well as abroad – ask Eli Zabar, NYC.
Yet his lead products are Musciscka (both fresh or dried meat strips) and Sperone (dry-cured ham). Incredibly tasty!
THIRD STOP: AL TRABUCCO DA MIMÌ RESTAURANT, Peschici (FG)
Ever heard about Trabucco?
The trabucco is a traditional wooden fishing machine (very popular on the coast of the Gargano Promontory) that is still used to catch mullets, anchovies, sardines, cuttlefishes and amberjacks.
In particular, the Trabucco da Mimì consists of a central platform firmly anchored to the rocky spur of Punta San Nicola (Peschici), jutting out into the sea. Five wooden arms (each up to 131 feet long) stretch out suspended some feet above the water and supporting a huge, rectangular, net (3229 square feet). Fishermen still use to raise and cast the net manually through two big winches.
The Trabucco da Mimì is also a gourmet seafood restaurant, where mullet is the main ingredients of many recipes.
Interestingly, the chef, Domenico Ottaviano, mixes local ingredients (such as salicornia – sea vegetable) with Japanese flavours (miso above all). And his twin brother, Vincenzo Ottaviano, chooses the wines (and craft beers) that pair better.
FOURTH STOP: MASSERIA PAGLICCI, Rignano Garganico (FG)
My 2-day tour of the Gargano Promontory officially ended on the slopes of Rignano, a small town also known as the “Balcony of Puglia”, for its breath-taking view of the plain.
In the impressive Pagliccio estate, there is a multi-award winning farm that is popular for its quality meat and cheese.
Thanks to their constant commitment to breeding the original Podolica cattle breed, the owners (the Bramantes) have been collecting several awards.
Actually, their caciocavallo podolico del Gargano (cheese), the podolica cow of the Gargano (meat), and the Gargano goat (meat and cheese) have all been recognised as Slow Food Presidia.
…Just leave all behind and lose yourself to the silence of the valleys interrupted only by the peal of grazing cattle.